The Gulf Coast Joint Venture of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan began contracting private agricultural lands (hereafter mini-refuges) in 1988 to expand existing sanctuaries for northern pintails (Anas acuta) in southwestern Louisiana. Previous research suggested that mini-refuges may prove more attractive to pintails than permanent, open-water pools (pools) on refuges because mini-refuges provide sanctuary and food during the day, whereas pools generally provide only sanctuary (Rave and Cordes 1993). We used radiotelemetry to compare diel use of mini-refuges and pools (Lacassine Pool and Amoco Pool) by female pintails in southwestern Louisiana during winters of 1991-1992 and 1992-1993. We examined variation in use of these areas in relation to female age (immature or adult), time period (prehunting season, first hunting season, time between split hunting seasons, second hunting season, and posthunting season), and winter (1991-1992 and 1992-1993). Diurnal use of min-refuges and pools differed among time periods, but differences were not consistent between winters. Mini-refuges accounted for <2% of diurnal use by pintails in 7 of 10 time-period and winter comparisons. Diurnal use of mini-refuges was lower than that of Lacassine Pool in 8 of 10 time-period and winter comparisons. Diurnal use of mini-refuges was lower than tha of Amoco pool during first hunting season in 1992-1993, but use of these areas did not differ within other time periods and winters. Nocturnal use of mini-refuges and pools did not differ in relation to female age, time period, winter, or individual bird. Nocturnal use of mini-refuges did not differ from that of Lacassine Pool. In contrast to predictions and findings by Rave and Cordes (1993), we found that: (1) female pintails did not use mini-refuges more than pools, and (2) female pintails used mini-refuges at night. We believe that use of mini-refuges by pintails could be increased if mini-refuges were (1) located in areas of traditionally high pintail use, (2) increased in size, (3) flooded immediately prior to hunting season, and (4) cleared of dense vegetation by rolling, disking, or burning.
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Use of mini-refuges by female northern pintails wintering in southwestern Louisiana